Leaders of Europe and new faces

Published 04.07.2019 21:59
Updated 05.07.2019 00:07

When we learned the names of the new executives of the European Union, one of our famous proverbs came to mind: "The mountain gave birth to a mouse."

Each political group participated in the European Parliament elections with a single candidate. The candidate that received the most votes was to be European Commission president. Everybody believed in this plan since the EU leaders summit had already approved of it. Even though the majority of voters across the EU were unaware of this candidate strategy, informed citizens voted according to these criteria. At the end of the elections, as expected, the candidate fro the Christian Democrats, Manfred Weber, became the winning candidate. Just as Weber began dreaming about being European Commission president, EU leaders had already changed their minds. Weber wasn't supported because he was inexperienced. In addition, French President Emmanuel Macron had other plans, and Weber wasn't part of them. And while German Chancellor Angela Merkel supported Weber, she is no longer the EU's strongest chancellor. Because of that, Weber progressively lost footing. Weber's social democrat opponent and EU elections' second name, Frans Timmermans from Holland, became the second name to be proposed for the commission. However, the leaders of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Poland, whom he had angered when he was working in the commission, were absolutely against his candidacy. In the end, France, Germany, Spain and Holland conceded to the opposition.

As a result of a plan that Macron was also involved in, German Defense Minister Ursula Gertrud von der Leyen was proposed as commission president. EU leaders accepted this proposal. Of course, the negotiations were not over. If Christian Democrat and German von der Leyen is to be commission president, the social democrats, liberals, the French, the Spanish and even the Catalans had to be happy. No solution was found for that either. Belgian President Charles Michel became EU Council president, Spain's Foreign Affairs Minister Josep Borell became defense commissar and French IMF head Christine Lagarde became chief of the European Central Bank. Macron is very happy because all four names speak French. Of course, they have not been elected by the European Parliament yet. There was a European Parliament, wasn't it?

European Parliament members were furious. To be honest, most of them did not want Manfred Weber to be European Commission president. However, they acted as if they "wished it" and criticized the EU Leaders' Summit decision harshly as a result. In the meantime, they too had to elect a European Parliament president.

In a very democratic manner, the Christian Democrats declared their support for the Social Democrats' candidates "regardless of who that may be." Because, again, in a very swift manner they planned that Manfred Weber would become European Parliament president two and a half years later. Weber, who was not wanted by EU leaders, also needed an office. In the meantime, social democrats, by giving up on a candidate, decided on a new candidate just a couple of hours prior to the election: Italian David-Maria Sassoli. As opposition, members from the smaller groups Jan Zahradil, Ska Keller and Sira Rego participated in the election as candidates. In the second round of the elections, Sassoli was elected with 345 votes at the European Parliament – which had 751 members of Parliament even though only 701 members participated in the elections and out of those, only 667 cast valid votes. If there was an election where all the members of Parliament had participated as is their responsibility, he would have needed 376 votes.

Considering that 50 members of Parliament did not participate in the elections and that 37 of them cast invalid votes in the first election, the Parliament's passage into a new period has been an interesting event.

As a result, the second meeting of the new period to be held on July 15 and 18, the European Commission president and commissars will be elected. The strongest opposition to the proposed commission's presidency, von der Leyen, comes from the German Social Democrats. It is not expected that the clamor that this group, which has seen its numbers diminished greatly, produces will translate into votes. Now von der Leyen is going to meet with the groups represented in the Parliament. She will work to convince them. I personally believe she will succeed. It won't be hard for her to convince the Christian Democrats and liberals. Social democrats will appear as if they are being hardly convinced. Greens, as they always do, will present the key that "the name is not important, what matters is the program." In the end, the leaders of the EU again will prove that they are the masters of EU.

All we can do is to say good luck to President Sassoli.

As a female politician, the previous family, defense and work minister of Germany and mother of seven children, von der Leyen will go down in history as Germany's first European Commission president and the commission's first female president. We would like to wish her good luck too.

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